Rachel Malone writes:
For those of us who believe that words like “shall not be infringed” mean what they say, Constitutional Carry makes perfect sense. For someone who’s never considered the idea, constitutional or “permitless” carry may be a shocking proposition.
I’ve already presented its safety benefits. It’s time to acknowledge the fact that Constitutional Carry restores minority Americans’ lost civil right to keep and bear arms.
At the beginning of this nation’s history, African-Americans weren’t recognized as legal citizens. The “gun rights” protection clauses in both the states’ and the federal Constitution didn’t apply to them. Many states created laws to specifically exclude blacks — both slaves and freed men — from keeping and/or bearing arms.
Clayton E. Cramer of the Constitution Society gives us an example:
Arms restrictions on free blacks increased dramatically after Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831 caused the South to become increasingly irrational in its fears. In response to Turners Rebellion, the Virginia Legislature made it illegal for free blacks “to keep or carry any firelock of any kind, any military weapon, or any powder or lead.”
In addition, the existing law under which free blacks were occasionally licensed to possess or carry arms was repealed, thus making arms possession completely illegal for free blacks.
But even before this action by the Virginia Legislature, in the aftermath of Turner’s Rebellion, the discovery that a free black family possessed lead shot for use as scale weights, but did not have powder or a weapon in which to fire it, was considered sufficient reason for a frenzied mob to discuss summary execution of the owner.
After the war between the states, the 14th amendment recognized blacks as citizens, with full legal rights. Many states enacted sweeping gun bans to protect their racist gun control regimes.
At the same time, firearms licensing schemes spread throughout the U.S., including literacy tests, high fees and summary judgements based on an applicant’s’ “character.”
Women and men of color, many facing murderous racists, were denied a permission slip to exercise their gun rights in defense of innocent life (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr.).
The Florida Supreme Court admitted the state’s firearms licensing scheme’s racist roots when it overturned the conviction of a white man arrested for carrying a handgun without a permit.
In Watson v. Stone, Justice Buford stated, “I know something of the history of this legislation. . . . The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied.”
If you think that this bias is ancient history, that today’s permitting and licensing regimes are administered without regard to race, think again. If a voter ID card is considered racist, what are we to make of the far more onerous permitting process?
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island’s “may issue” concealed carry licensing schemes depend entirely on the say-so of government officials.
Do government officials in these states grant carry permits to their state’s poorest populations? While they may claim to be color blind, the permitting process puts minorities at a distinct disadvantage.
The “right” to keep and bear arms in these states is reserved for celebrities, wealthy gun owners, politically connected citizens and people with the time, education and financial resources to fight for their Constitutional right to bear arms. Mostly, it must be said, white people.
Even in states with less contempt for gun rights, the time, cost and complications of concealed (and open) carry licensing are too high a barrier for millions of minority Americans.
Many people who live and work in low-income, high-crime areas, people who may have the most reason to carry a firearm for self-defense, can’t afford the time or money or negotiate the bureaucracy required to exercise their Second Amendment protected right to keep and bear arms.
The U.S. Constitution was written to protect the right to keep and bear arms from any and all licensing schemes, for all Americans. Carrying a self-defense firearm isn’t a privilege to be earned and granted based on false notions of social good or political whims. It should not be a favor reserved for those groups with the financial resources needed to jump over the unconstitutional hurdles erected by their own government.
Constitutional Carry increases public safety for all Americans. It eliminates the racial discrimination that underpins all mandatory firearms licensing regulations. It should be the law of the land — again, and for every American.
If you’re a Texan, please join me in promoting Constitutional Carry at the hearing on March 28. Click on this pdf or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the time, place and process.